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Hemp Industry Leaders: O’Neil Rudolph with Cannachange

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Imagine a world where cannabis consumption can be sustainable, like truly sustainable, giving back to the planet that the cannabis plant grows in. Cannachange is on a mission to create this world with a cannabis sustainability initiative that functions through a mobile app, and allows consumers to return recyclable, reusable, and compostable cannabis packaging to dispensaries for points that turn into dispensary credit.

The Plain Jane blog covers a lot of cannabis/hemp/CBD industry leaders and so, it was a must to have a sit down with the founder of cannachange. Global warming/climate change is a real concern and as time ticks, we have to find ways to nurture our planet. 

Hear more about cannachange from founder, Oneil Rudolph. 

Please tell me about your journey into the cannabis/hemp industry?

“Before I started pursuing a career in cannabis, I was just a consumer with a fascination for the plant and an eagerness to learn more about it. As someone who was regularly accumulating cannabis packaging and an environmentally conscious person, I was really surprised to discover that there wasn’t a sustainable way to directly dispose of cannabis packaging or a universal system allowing you to return reusable packaging, such as glass jars, to dispensaries. 

I saw programs like that exist in other industries, such as the beauty industry, where consumers are rewarded with points that turn into credits when they return recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging so it can be sanitized and reused or recycled/composted and diverted from the landfill. 

Seeing this model work well in other industries and knowing that other cannabis consumers are also interested in sustainability, and would participate in a sustainability effort for packaging if given the opportunity, was what made me decide to execute that idea and follow a career into the cannabis industry by launching cannachange.” 

Can you take me back to the day that Cannachange was born; what do you remember about it?

“I wanted to bring my idea for cannachange to life for a while, but kept pushing it to the back of my mind because I felt like it was much too big of a project to take on. I didn’t have any prior experience in app or software development and had only briefly explored skills in website/logo design and social media marketing at that point. 

I knew that if I were to fully execute cannachange, I would have to do everything possible to get media attention from consumers, dispensaries, brands, and everyone in between to succeed, which seemed incredibly daunting at the time. However, I think the formidable nature of truly bringing cannachange to life was what really pushed me to go for it.

If it seemed like an easy project to take on- what would be the fun in that? When I decided to face the challenge of starting the business, curating the “look” of the company, marketing to businesses with similar values, and developing the app/program, I remember feeling more accomplished than I ever have before. 

It wasn’t even the completion of the website or publishing of the app or gaining media attention that made me feel a great sense of accomplishment (although, those are all things I’m extremely grateful for and that have definitely contributed to the success of the company)- it was making the decision that cannachange was something I committed to carrying out wholeheartedly after doubting my ability to do that for so long. 

I felt so energized and motivated for the new journey I was starting and so excited to see where my path in the cannabis industry would take me.” 

Photo Credit: cannachange

You are a “minority in cannabis” with a business focused on saving the world; what does that load feel like on a daily basis?

“The burden of being a minority in the cannabis industry and putting so much of myself into a business with a mission so close to my heart, and one that I feel so passionate about making an impact with, is definitely a heavy load to carry. 

I’ve heard people refer to the feeling founders/owners get when they’re working on their business day after day (and often carrying all sides of the company) as “founder’s fatigue”, but I think that phrase carries even more weight when you’re a minority business owner and have a company with a sustainability mission, in an industry that doesn’t support minorities and actually works against sustainability. 

Sometimes I feel like I have to give up on the idea that cannabis really can transform into a sustainable industry, especially with so many laws and regulations in place that harm the environment, and set ‘more realistic’ goals for cannachange, but:

if every business owner with a mission to save the world gave up on that mission when things got difficult, we wouldn’t get anywhere. 

I also think being a part of the first generation to inevitably experience irreversible and life threatening effects of climate change from the time we were born adds to that pressure to make an impact. I often wonder, “If I don’t do it, who will?”

Speaking of that load, what/who helps support it?

“To relieve the burden I feel, I like to take breaks to recharge and allow myself to enjoy the simple things in life that bring me joy, like going to the beach with my dog, smoking a J while watching the sunset, or getting takeout and watching one of my favorite movies. 

I also believe that surrounding myself with likeminded people who understand the faults of the industry and are willing to have open conversations about them is extremely beneficial. I think having those discussions can help minorities in cannabis feel less alone and keeping a close circle with other professionals or friends who align with their values can help energize business owners when they do start to feel that sense of “founder’s fatigue”. 

Even though cannabis as an industry is frequently the cause of my stress, cannabis as a plant is my #1 stress reliever and what helps me get out of stagnant times where I don’t feel a sense of progress or accomplishment, which is why I have such a strong appreciation for it.” 

What are 3 things you want readers to know about cannachange?

  1. cannachange is a Black, LGBTQ+, and Woman owned company at the intersection of three white, straight, male dominated industries- cannabis, tech, and sustainability. 
  1. cannachange is focused on empowering consumers to recognize their ability to shift the cannabis industry and the companies that dominate it to be more environmentally conscious, while also giving businesses the tools to be more sustainable. 
  1. cannachange is just getting started! The support we’ve seen since our launch in March has been incredible and as we’re continuing to push the rollout of our app and program into dispensaries, we hope to positively impact the planet as much as possible and allow consumers nationwide to access our sustainability initiative. 

To learn more about cannachange, please visit this link

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